June 11, 2018
Rewa successfully defended the Vodafone Fiji FACT title on its home soil yesterday after beating Labasa 5-3 in penalty shoot-out.
The winner had to be decided through the shootout after both teams failed to score in normal and two spells of extra time.
The bumper crowd in excess of 9000 gathered at Ratu Cakobau Park to witness the much anticipated final and the two districts did not let their fans down and give their all in the tightly contested affair.
Goalkeeper Manasa Waqavou again displayed a Man of the Match performance and made some daring saves in both spells while Labasa strikers Christopher Wasasala and Ilisoni Loloivalu missed a number of good scoring opportunities.
Setareki Hughes and Epeli Saukuru took some good shots at goal in the second half while Captain Amani Makoe, Peniame Drova, Vuniuci Tikomaimereke and young Savenaca Baledrokadroka worked tirelessly in defence for the hosts.
Veteran Taniela Waqa who led the Babasiga Lions featured strongly as a defensive midfielder and worked overtime both in defence and attack.
Rewa defender Lorima Dau who was calling the shots from the bench in first and second half of the final came on as a replacement in extra time and this move saw an injured Marika Rodu come on the bench with crutches.
The Delta Tigers also brought in nippy Fiji U19 midfielder Mohammed Ramzan, Sairusi Nalaubu and Mohammed Naizal as fresh players late into the match.
Labasa introduced Pita Levaci, Thomas Steiner and Ilaisa Nayasi to add more strength and depth to their attack.
The Northerners managed to find the back of the net in the dying stages of extra time but the goal was disallowed by the match officials as Christopher Wasasala was deemed to have fouled the goalkeeper in the air resulting in a serious head injury to the keeper. Wasasala was also booked for the incident.
In the penalty shoot-out, Makoe and Ilisoni Logaivou were successful with their first attempts.
Setareki Hughes scored from the second attempt for Rewa while Waqavou saved Wasasala’s attempt to give Rewa a 2-1 advantage.
Savenaca Baledrokadroka and Lorima Dau netted Rewa’s third and fourth attempts while Antonio Tuivuna and Pita Levaci scored for Labasa.
Left-back Josateki Tamudu netted the winner for Rewa with the fifth attempt to send the fans into frenzy.
Rewa received $15000 for winning the tournament while Labasa walked away $4000 richer.
By Reginald Chandar